Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major, Op 77; Bartók: Violin Concerto No 1

Reviewed on Mon 01 Feb, 2016

In the Brahms Concerto tempos vary according to moods characterised, but the big picture remains; and a long, sinewy line is always uppermost ... an illustrious performance.

Outstanding conducting and playing as Antonio Pappano and Janine Jansen meld in Brahms’s Concerto. Tempos vary according to moods characterised, but the big picture remains; and a long, sinewy line is always uppermost. The sound, though, is short on clarity in the upper bass, subduing orchestral definition and attack here. Heard nevertheless are excellent principals, like the oboist in the slow movement, where Jansen also excels in conveying tenderness through shaded tones and fine rubatos. If she plays down the asperity implicit in some of Brahms’s asymmetrical phrasing elsewhere, this is still an illustrious performance to place alongside David Oistrakh/Otto Klemperer (EMI/Warner), Kyung Wha Chung/Simon Rattle (EMI/Warner) and Leonidas Kavakos/Riccardo Chailly (Decca). Rapport continues in Bartók's First, and the sound is clearer. Jansen latches sympathetically, if a touch objectively, to the lament for lost love in the first movement; but finds full form in the second. Other versions to consider are by Isabelle Faust/Daniel Harding (Harmonia Mundi, reviewed by Chris Achenbach on 15 November 2013) and Gidon Kremer/Pierre Boulez (DG).
–Nalen Anthoni